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ABOUT FILM

ONCE UPON A TIME THERE LIVED A SIMPLE WOMAN


Historical Drama

Russia, Tambov Province, 1909-1921.
The Russian Village is experiencing the most difficult of times:
World War I, the Russian Revolution, civil war, and famine.
Peasants who refuse to obey the new authorities
find themselves dispossessed of their land or property or even murdered.
Once Upon a Time There Lived a Simple Woman tells the story of Russias destiny
during the darkest pages of its history through the life,
loves and tragic fate of Varvara, a simple Russian woman.



 
Andrey Smirnov on how the film came to be made:
In 1967 I was twenty-six years old and a young film director at an experimental film studio. I shot a short feature film, Angel, based on a story by Yuri Olesha. In the film the themes of the Russian Civil War and the Russian Village intertwine. This film was the debut for Nikolai Gubenko, Georgi Burkov, Leonid Kulagin, and Lyudmila Polyakova. The motion picture was put on the shelf and the original negative was destroyed. Today people know about this film only because one copy of it miraculously survived under an editors table for 20 years.

For the following three years after that I was put out of work in film. However, it was this picture that became my director's passport.

My next work was Belorussian Station (Belorusski Vokzal). Soon after that I gave up directing because I was tired of the tension with the censors none of my five motion pictures, including Belorussian Station, was shown in the theatres in their original form. Autumn (Osen) was almost not released in the theatres, and Faith and Fidelity (Veroy I Pravdoy) was crippled by censors as well.

This is why I had not been directing films since 1979. I was directing theatrical productions, writing plays, and acting, but I stopped directing motion pictures. Once people started talking about the annihilation of censorship in 1987, I decided that it was my duty to get back to this topic and try to tell what the Russian catastrophe is. And in this organic way, the idea of using the Tambov Rebellion material, also known in Russian history as the "Antonov Uprising", was born.
Peasants were antagonistic towards the Soviet regime. In 1918, Lenin, who hated Russia, its villages and priests, declared a "class struggle" in the countryside. As a result, Poor Peasants Committees were created that carried out atrocities throughout the territories subordinate to the Soviet regime.

Village drunks and down-and-outers broke into prosperous houses, robbing and killing their owners. From the point of view of establishing order, the "Poor Peasants Committees" were so completely inefficient that they were done away with shortly thereafter. But nevertheless, the Bolsheviks and these Poor Peasants Committees succeeded in creating inter-class discord within the Russian villages.

It was nothing more than declaration that the October Revolution was to be directed only against landlords and capitalists. In reality, none of these classes suffered percentage wise as much as the two most hated by Lenin, the peasantry and clergy.

I really wanted to tell people about this. I am an urban dweller and it took me years to get deep into the theme of the Antonov Uprising.

My work on the script started with a visit to the KGB. Over there I got a few scarce reports and papers. Antonov`s case, which I requested, was never shown to me even in the 1990s. We still do not know what papers are actually kept inside the Top Secret folders. But fortunately, a large number of documents related to the Antonov Uprising were published in the book Antonovshina and that was quite enough for me to write the script.

The film is made with the support of Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and The Renova Group

Special Thanks To:
Roman Abramovich, Victor Vekselberg, Alfred Coh, Vladislav Surkov
as well as
Anatoly Chubays, Leonid Gozman, Anatoly Serdyukov, Vladimir Bakin, Vladimir Yakunin,
Andrey Gordeev, Vasiliy Anisimov, Lybov Sliska, Igor Tin`kov,
Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk,
Bishop Nikon of the Lipetsk and Eletsk Diocese,
Hegumen Trifon of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Monastery in Zadonsk,
Hieromonk Gavriil,
Head of Tambov Region Administration, Oleg Betin

Film Company "AS" - Email DavidenkoDA@gmail.com International rights - Agency "Intercinema" Email post@intercin.ru